Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Mystery Revealed

One of my favorite things to do on Ravelry is visit the "fiber to finished object" threads on various spinning boards. I love seeing how the original fiber -- sometimes even in the form of a fleece -- becomes yarn and then a finished project. I have one of those to share with you today, and now I can reveal exactly what it was that you saw in that sneak peek in my last post.

In this case, I started out with this fiber from Sakina Needles that I purchased nearly two years ago from the Loopy Ewe. It was BFL (that's blue-faced leicester, for those of you who don't speak sheep) in a colorway called Smokestack. I started with four ounces.

Because BFL is a longwool, meaning it has a long staple length (that's the length of an individual hair), it works really well as a singles yarn. Singles yarns typically use less twist, because without being plied in the opposite direction with another single, too much twist will cause the yarn to kink up. Shorter-stapled fibers, like merino or cashmere, need more twist to hold them together in a yarn, so they are usually better suited to plied yarns. Longwools, however, can hold together just fine with less twist, so that's what I decided to do with my fiber. I spun a heavy laceweight single with my BFL. To finish it, to ensure that I worked out as much extra twist as I could and that it would stay together, I slightly fulled it by dunking it in hot and cold baths a few times then gave it a vigorous thwacking against the side of the bathtub. I ended up with about 530 yards.

Because I had used Malabrigo Lace as my guide when I started spinning this yarn, I thought it only appropriate that I substitute my handspun for that Malabrigo in a pattern I'd had in my queue:

Pattern: Citron by Hilary Smith Callis, winter '09 Knitty
Yarn: my handspun (details here)
Needles: 32" US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: March 13/April 3
Mods: none

This was a really simple knit and fairly fast -- it only took me as long as it did because those last rows are so long (the ruffle at the end has more than 500 stitches per row!), and as you know, I have limited knitting time these days. It was an interesting experience to block, because this is the first shawl I've knit that I did not need to be blocked aggressively. I merely smoothed it out and pinned the top edge of the shawl so it would dry fairly straight, and then I pulled at the ruffle here and there so it would ruffle nicely.

I'm really quite thrilled with this little shawlette. The yarn developed a really pretty halo while I knitted it, and I love how it striped with the pattern. I think the best compliment I received on it was when I was working on it at Natural Stitches and another customer in the shop asked where she could find the yarn I was working with.

Finally I have a couple of questions to answer. Both were left in the comments to my last post. (I try to respond to all the comments I get by e-mail, but sometimes there is no e-mail address associated with the comment and I'm unable to respond.) Samantha, of the Fiber Freaks blog, wanted to know how I spin my yarns. Although I first learned the basics of spinning on a drop spindle, I very quickly moved to a wheel. I bought my Lendrum DT about two years ago and have been using it exclusively ever since.

Liz T. also wanted to know if I had any cute Easter pictures to share. Unfortunately no, because we don't celebrate Easter. But we have gotten some cute shots of Rainbow recently, so I'll try to sneak a few into the next post.


  1. Wow, that is one of the best looking Citrons I have seen!

  2. Love love LOVE! I am so into Citron now. I love the way yours striped!

  3. it's gorgeous! but you knew that. :)

  4. You know I'm not a huge shawl person, but holy cow, that Citron is amazing. AMAZING! By far, the best one I've seen!

  5. Wow! I just love seeing the start to finish photos! Great job on this and love the colors.

  6. Your spinning looks amazing, and the shawl turned out beautifully! Loving those stripes!

  7. Liz T.2:17 PM

    I agree - the shawl is absolutely fabulous!! Love seeing your spinning to completed projects (well- really ALL your projects!) and the great spinning info you added. I haven't tried spinning, but it's interesting to learn how various fibers work. Looking forward to seeing those cute Rainbow shots - I know she has really grown!

  8. That is the prettiest Citron I've seen!!
    How on earth did you get it to stripe so perfectly for that pattern?- the color changes flow so beautifully with the pattern!

  9. Love the shawl -- the striping worked out perfectly!

  10. I really love your singles and how your citron turned out!

  11. Anonymous1:52 PM

    Your shawl is beautiful - the striping of your handspun is perfect! I have this shawl in my queue and was planning to use some handpainted sock yarn for it, but now I think you have inspired me to spin for it (if I ever manage to get my wheel out again!).

  12. Nice!I found you via a friends blog and my eyes got big when I seen that you too are in Pa. I'll be heading to the Maryland sheep and wool festival...will you?

    I'm so excited! Love what you spin up btw